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Higher education proposes a 4.23% fee increase

The Department of Higher Education and Training has proposed a 4.23% increase in tuition fees for the 2022 academic year, and a maximum of 6.23% for accommodation at the 26 universities.

Briefing the media on Tuesday on the readiness of the post-school education and training (PSET) sector for the 2022 academic year, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, said fee increases have been agreed across the industry as part of a social pact that has been in place since 2016, the only year tariffs did not increase.

“Since 2016, we have been working with the industry on inflation-linked increases to ensure fee increases remain affordable. As such, for the start of the 2022 academic year, a CPI [Consumer Price Index] an increase, up to a maximum of 4.23% for tuition fees and IPC+2%, up to a maximum of 6.23% on accommodation fees, has been proposed,” Nzimande said.

He said the ministry recognizes that the long-term stability and sustainability of the sector depends, to a large extent, on revenue from tuition and residence fees.

The department, the minister said, is working on a fee regulation policy framework.

He said the costs of university education continue to rise and therefore it is unsustainable to consider fee increases below inflation.

“The fee increases are necessitated by obvious factors, including increases in worker salaries and staff salaries; increase in electricity and water tariffs; rising food prices; books and learning materials, and generally rising inflation.

Students owe R6.1 billion

The minister said student debt has increased.

Unaudited data shows that an estimated R6.1 billion was owed by students at the start of the 2021 academic year.

The audited accumulated gross student debt, as of December 31, 2020, is R16.5 million, and this includes students who have left university with debt.

“A survey conducted by the department in 2021 showed that around 56.2% of students in debt owed less than R10,000; 32.9% owe between R10,000 and 50,000 and 10.9% owe more than R50,000. The survey also showed that National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) students owe R5.3 billion.

“It should be noted that the government has contributed R1.7 billion to the NSFAS following the due diligence exercise undertaken in 2018 in relation to the historical debt of registered and qualified NSFAS students.

“This was mainly to target eligible students who were subject to the R122,000 family income threshold and the NSFAS funding cap,” Nzimande said, adding that work between the NSFAS and the institutions is currently ongoing. .

Complete Student Financial Aid Template

Nzimande said the department is working hard to develop recommendations for a comprehensive student financial aid model for the future.

“This model will incorporate existing funding available from the state and explore alternative funding sources,” the minister said.

Nzimande reiterated the department’s concerns over students considered part of the “missing middle”, saying there is a need for more postgraduate funding opportunities.

He said he looked forward to receiving the report from the ministerial task team appointed in 2021 to support the development of a new student financial aid policy. The report is expected in the first half of 2022.

“The Ministerial Task Team has already started to engage the banking community and progress has been made in this regard. For the current term, we are in discussions with the Banking Association of South Africa on work that needs to be done to develop a possible loan program for students outside the NSFAS funding scheme.

“For missing middle school students, there are also other funding opportunities available both at the school level and from other sources. We invite those seeking financial support to contact the financial aid offices of their respective institutions,” said the Minister.